Southeast Asia 2016

Day 18 Penang Batu Ferringi

Day 18: Tuesday December 6

We finally had a sleep in day!! And it was lovely. Our plan for the day revolved around being out at the resort area to see the night market (and shopping of course).

To that end, after breakfast we headed to Komtar (the central bus terminal and tallest building in Georgetown) and caught a bus out that direction. We decided to check out the spice gardens, which is a bit past the hotels. We ate lunch at a roadside restaurant across from the spice garden before touring the garden - assam laksa for Chad (Alex tried it, she's not a fan) and nasi goreng for Alex (very good).

The spice gardens was set up to show people some of the native plants and spices, as well as provide some insight into why Penang was colonized and the impact that spices had on world history and Penang. We got to learn a few new things about different spices and what some of them looked like, although it was sometimes hard to tell what was what with the signs and audio guide. The garden made the point that it was the spice trade that put Penang on the map as a port because the climate meant you could grow a lot of different things here. There was also a poison plant garden which is something we had never seen before.

After our tour of the garden, we decided to try out the restaurant in the spice garden. The food was all Thai, which we weren't quite expecting, but it was good. We ordered massuman curry for Alex and rendang for Chad. Alex thinks they got the orders mixed up, but it was hard to tell, the dishes looked so similar. Admittedly, they did taste different. The rendang was Thai style, very different from Chad's favourite malaysian dish. In the end, Alex liked the rendang and Chad liked the mussaman curry, so it worked out.

We had planned to go to one of the beaches by the resorts, but had discovered that there was a beach where we had lunch (right opposite the spice gardens). So we headed there. It seemed to be an evening ritual among many local families to come to this beach with picnics. We sat on the sand and watched the kids play in the shallow water, splashing around and having a great time. The local community seemed to be mostly Muslim, pretty much everyone going in the water was fully clothed, boys and girls, even the men. Possibly as a way to keep the sun off them? It didn't seem to get in the way of anyone's enjoyment. A few people were even in jeans.

Our last stop of the day was the pasar malam (night market) at Batu Ferringi. We are pleased to report that we think we walked the entire thing. It took us about 3 hours, including a stop for second dinner at a food court where we got mutton murtuback and mee goreng.

This is really the only place where we had to put our bargaining skills to use. In town, almost everything seems to have a price listed, and vendors don't seem all that willing to negotiate on the prices. But at this market, they were very willing to make a deal if it meant you bought their products. We both had a pretty successful night. Chad found not one, but two muscle shirts. Why did he want them? Apparently to make him look intimidating with his big biceps ;) Alex found a wallet (Louis Vuitton, would you believe ;) ) and a dinner tray. After walking away from the tray, the vendor of the tray actually chased us down a few stalls beyond his to say that they would accept the price we wanted (after conferring with his partner). We must have been right on the border of what he would accept.

Very tired but proud of our bargaining skills, we headed back to our hotel.

Next: Day 19: breakfast tour, Penang Hill

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